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Advice for your child to make money
Old 06-11-2012, 09:14 PM   #1
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Advice for your child to make money

My son asked me for my advice on how he should make money during his life. Do I tell him to be a doctor, lawyer, etc? Or, do I advise him to take a chance and start a business?

I know it's ultimately something he has to decide for himself and enjoy, but as his most trusted advisor, what should I recommend?

I think the easy way out for me would be to direct him toward the path of least risk and highest benefit such as becoming an MD. Yet part of me wants him to take a calculated risk and start a business or find a way of making money without having to depend on getting paid an hourly rate, thus limiting his earning capacity.

Most of the successful people I know have become rich from their own business or investing on real estate. Yet I also know many people that have tried this and failed miserably.

I think the goal is to find something to earn money that does not depend on your own work hours. In a way I'm thinking of what I would do if I could be a teen again knowing what I know now.
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Old 06-11-2012, 09:19 PM   #2
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Tell him to follow his passion. He'll be most successful doing something he loves.
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Old 06-11-2012, 09:38 PM   #3
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Great question- one that I've thought a lot about and unfortunately haven't come up with a great answer. I think we tend to give advice that is most in line with our own comfort zone. I don't feel very qualified to give entrepreneurial advice because I'm not much of a risk taker. Get a solid college degree that you can use and then find a good company with good benefits.

I have this discussion with my brother from time to time because he started out with an engineering career and hated it so much he quit and started buying and renovating real estate. I'll be telling my kids what I think works and he'll be telling kids what he thinks works.

I'd like to say that I encourage them to do whatever will make them the happiest and hope that they can make a good living at it. So far, I haven't really had to say anything... somehow one decided he wants to be an entomologist and the other says he's going to develop video games. Sounds pretty good to me!

In the end, I think encouraging them to read a lot and try many things will help them to find something they'll like (and hopefully make a living). By the way, what's the difference between a pizza and an art major?

A pizza can feed a family of four.
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Old 06-11-2012, 09:48 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by retire@40
My son asked me for my advice on how he should make money during his life. Do I tell him to be a doctor, lawyer, etc?
I can't speak to the career/financial prospects for physicians, but definitely don't encourage him to become a lawyer. The employment stats for young attorneys are quite discouraging, especially for graduates of unbanked law schools and those with mediocre grades. See generally "Law School Grads Face Worst Job Market Yet - Less Than Half Find Jobs in Private Practice" (NALP press release, June 7, 2012).
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Old 06-11-2012, 10:57 PM   #5
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My son asked me for my advice on how he should make money during his life. Do I tell him to be a doctor, lawyer, etc? Or, do I advise him to take a chance and start a business?

I know it's ultimately something he has to decide for himself and enjoy, but as his most trusted advisor, what should I recommend?

I think the easy way out for me would be to direct him toward the path of least risk and highest benefit such as becoming an MD. Yet part of me wants him to take a calculated risk and start a business or find a way of making money without having to depend on getting paid an hourly rate, thus limiting his earning capacity.

Most of the successful people I know have become rich from their own business or investing on real estate. Yet I also know many people that have tried this and failed miserably.

I think the goal is to find something to earn money that does not depend on your own work hours. In a way I'm thinking of what I would do if I could be a teen again knowing what I know now.
I think he's old enough to share all the ambiguity with him.

If he's a young teen (before high school) then he's probably looking for reassurance. I noticed that our daughter's middle-school teachers tended to scare the crap out of the students with horror stories about grades and transcripts and college applications. You could tell him that doing well in school will give him a lot of choices in colleges and degree programs, and then he'll have a lot of opportunities (internships) to test-drive various careers to find the sweet spot of love & money.

Or he can screw off in high school and aspire to someday be shift manager at a Taco Bell. I apologize if any of the board's posters are currently shift managers at a Taco Bell, but in our family that's a metaphor for dropping out before you even try.

If he's in high school, then you could tell him that there's no surefire way to make money. He should watch out for high-paying careers where he'll be miserable, and he should keep his eyes open for something that he enjoys where he can still make money. If he's not already hardwired for a college major then he should try to get a solid business degree so that he understands how to make money. If he's a house person then he should consider being a landlord. If he likes playing rock guitar then he'd better be strumming that thing 10 hours a day...

Then I think he'd be interested in reading "Millionaire Next Door", "Millionaire Mind", and MrMoneyMustache.com. (MMM's snarky profanity is perfect for his age demographic.) He might also be interested in you showing him how to look around his world for opportunities to make money-- even if it's just walking dogs or mowing lawns... let alone blogging for ad revenue.

I think that one of the reasons our daughter chose the military-- in addition to the irresistible challenge-- is because she has a guaranteed job waiting for her. By the time she finishes her service obligation, she'll be old enough to find a real job. That's her thinking, anyway. Who knows, career fear might keep her in the military for 20 years.
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Old 06-11-2012, 10:57 PM   #6
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I agree with Rowdy on this one. That said you don't mention how old your son is.

The goal in conversations about his future should probably be towards what he will be happiest doing unless of course "making money" is what interests him the most.

Then conversations to "convert" what he is happy doing into some career paths might be helpful as well. You can always suggest he take the career tests and the personality tests that most do in high school....to see where he leans. There are "career books" out there that might be helpful to you as you guide him.

There are many avenues for success that do not involve being a doctor or a lawyer.

But all of it takes hard work. He will need a passion for it to go the distance. But most of all he will need self-motivation and perseverance and being invested in his own success.

It pays to have lots of conversations with your children about their future. It is important. Hurray for you for doing so!
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Old 06-12-2012, 07:45 AM   #7
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Too many miserable millionaires out there. All other things being equal rich is better than poor but things are rarely equal.

Yes he has to put food on the table and a roof overhead but there is a lot of wiggle room there.

And I suppose there are Taco Bell shift managers who enjoy their work.
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Old 06-12-2012, 07:50 AM   #8
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I agree with Nords, share the ambiguity and Rowdy, steer them towards their passions. Unfortunately, the later can be hard to find.

Kids do well to get jobs in HS and college and multiple jobs in disparate industries can help them to learn more about what they like and don't like. It is too bad that schools don't invest in learning how to teach kids about vocations. They should be working with some of the advanced job talent/preference inventories that job couselors have developed to steer job seekers to fields where they will flourish. I don't know how good such inventories are but with some focus I bet we could develop good tools that would help HS kids learn about what kinds of jobs exist and how they match up with their particular strengths and interests. Most of us stumble into our careers and rarely end up passionate about the work.
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Old 06-12-2012, 08:39 AM   #9
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I can't speak to the career/financial prospects for physicians, but definitely don't encourage him to become a lawyer.
Lawyers do not want their kids to be lawyers, MDs do not want their kids to be MDs, etc. This is what I hear from doctors and lawyers when I speak with them. Engineers get so burned out they create retire early forums that attract other engineers like moths to a flame. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side and there is no perfect job.

Success in life is a function of skills and luck. I still believe people create their own luck by being persistent and motivated, but I also know really smart people that just could never catch a break no matter how much they tried. Bill Gates said he was lucky to have been born at the right time. If he had been born 25 years earlier or later, he may not have become who he is today.

The last thing I want to do to my son is to box him into a career mentality. I want to let him know that life is made up of many opportunities. The key is to be open-minded enough to look for, recognize, and know when to latch on to an opportunity and grab it by the horns, and when to cut the losses and move on if it fails.
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Old 06-12-2012, 08:48 AM   #10
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Tell him to follow his passion. He'll be most successful doing something he loves.
+1

the reason many people fail at those things is because they don't have a passion for them... just the money part. Best of both worlds is finding a profession that he both loves and pays well.

Building wealth is more of a lifestyle thing than a how much you make thing. Point him towards some good books on achieving FI... it can be done on almost any salary with the right discipline.
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Old 06-12-2012, 08:54 AM   #11
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Just about everything I've read says being one's own boss is the path to financial achievement. No guarantees, and it takes a skill, commitment and superior work ethic, but works for just about every profession.
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Old 06-12-2012, 09:49 AM   #12
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Maybe he just wants a list:

Quote:
The top 24 according to the U.S. Department of Labor:
  1. Surgeon: $181,850
  2. Anesthesiologist: $174,610
  3. OB/GYN: $174,610
  4. Oral and maxillofacial surgeon: $169,600
  5. Internist: $156,790
  6. Prosthodontist: $156,710
  7. Orthodontist: $153,240
  8. Psychiatrist: $151,380
  9. Chief Executive Officer: $140,880
  10. Engineering Manager: $140,210
  11. Pediatrician: $140,000
  12. Family or general practitioner: $137,980
  13. Physician/surgeon, all other: $137,100
  14. Airline Pilot: $134,090
  15. Dentist: $132,660
  16. Podiatrist: $111,130
  17. Lawyer: $110,590
  18. Dentist, any other specialist: $106,040
  19. Air Traffic Controller: $100,430
  20. Computer and Information Systems Manager: $100,110
  21. Marketing Manager: $100,020
  22. Natural Sciences Manager: $97,560
  23. Sales Manager: $96,950
  24. Astronomer: $96,780
From Highest Paying Jobs In The U.S. - AskMen

Personally, I'm in the "follow your passion" school, though. We only live once.
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:31 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by retire@40 View Post
My son asked me for my advice on how he should make money during his life. Do I tell him to be a doctor, lawyer, etc? Or, do I advise him to take a chance and start a business?

I know it's ultimately something he has to decide for himself and enjoy, but as his most trusted advisor, what should I recommend?....
If we advised our kids on what to do with their lives they would have done the opposite (I'm soooo impressed your son is not like them)!

Our daughter did listen to our gentle suggestion early in her college career to go to career counseling at her school, where she found she was in the wrong major--she changed her major and has been happily employed for the past 10 years. Perhaps your DS can do the same (not sure how old he is but even a high school counselor should be able to advise on aptitude tests?).

DS laughed at the idea of career counseling but also has been happy in his chosen field.

I do think people who are successful in their own business need to have some personal qualities (tenacity, not shy, risk taking, salesmanship, etc.) that probably cannot be taught--either they have them or they don't.
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:08 AM   #14
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Maybe he just wants a list:

Personally, I'm in the "follow your passion" school, though. We only live once.
  1. Surgeon: $181,850
Funny you mention that "follow your passion" is important. We have a "chest cutter" a few doors down from us that would have that #1 position in the list you quoted.

His recommendation to his two (teenage) sons is to do whatever you want, but don't do what I do (per his wife, who is an assistant at his practice).

Being in private practice (he was with a group, but it did not suit him) he spends little time with his family, and usually is leaving at the same time I let the dogs out in the morning (before 6 am) to make his rounds on current patients.

I rarely see his car parked at the house before 6 pm.

He may have more $$$ than me, but I believe I live a better life than he (of course, I'm retired - so it's easy to do )...
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Old 06-12-2012, 12:04 PM   #15
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As an attorney, I certainly can't recommend that field. I certainly agree with Milton that it is currently not a field with great employment prospects for many. Even if you have good employment prospects and get a job it is an extremely family unfriendly field. Suffice it to say that the money isn't enough to make it worth it.

As far as starting a business, some people have en entrepreneurial bent and others don't. I don't and so telling me to start a business would be actually telling me to be tortured.

It is fine to be concerned about making money and I would never say that it shouldn't be considered, but I would be more inclined to encourage my child to find out what lights his fire and interests him and then explore the options within that type of field.
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Old 06-12-2012, 02:27 PM   #16
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Be a professional student for 10-15 years. Max out your student loans, then go work for the government or a non profit for 10 years and have all the student loans forgiven. Then when you are around 40 and have no more student debt, hopefully you will have figured out what you want to do in life. At least I hope to have figured it out by the time I am 40!

In all seriousness, I don't sugar coat the fact that jobs mostly suck and prevent you from doing more awesome stuff that you would actually prefer to do. But jobs are how you get money to do awesome stuff, buy awesome stuff and live a comfortable life that includes things like a roof over your head, a car with gas in the tank, and food on the table. In fact I used pretty much this explanation to my seven year old when she discovered Daddy doesn't get a summer vacation from his job. I would counsel doing something that interests you, but don't be too surprised if you find that tedious at some point. Make sure whatever you do allows you to earn enough to be comfortable and relatively stress free, and also to save a little bit so you won't work forever.

I've done the lawyer thing and the engineering thing. I'd have to say the engineering thing worked out much better. And working for the government, while it has its challenges, is a notch or two lower down on the stress and responsibility scale vs. private consulting. YMMV of course. DW seems to have done reasonably well with a business degree, and that plus some interpersonal skills will get you a long way in the world.
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Old 06-12-2012, 02:57 PM   #17
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I'd like to say that I encourage them to do whatever will make them the happiest and hope that they can make a good living at it. So far, I haven't really had to say anything... somehow one decided he wants to be an entomologist and the other says he's going to develop video games. Sounds pretty good to me!
If your video game developer-to-be wants to ask any questions about what the industry is like, I'm happy to answer.
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Old 06-12-2012, 03:36 PM   #18
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retire@40, something you said a few posts ago is probably what I'd suggest, that of not boxing him into a career mentality. I've enjoyed my checkered work history immensely, and wouldn't have traded the random places opportunity has taken me for anything.

I think a suggestion to check out any open doors that come his way wouldn't be the worst advice you can give. I like the book and blog recommendations that Nords had as well. Also perhaps a copy of Strengthsfinder 2.0 (the latest iteration of the Now, Discover Your Strengths book) for him, an easy and interesting way to learn more about what he is good at, and how that might translate into what he wants to do.

I'm happy he has you to ask, and more importantly, that your relationship is such that he knows to ask. These are not convesations available in many families.
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Old 06-12-2012, 05:18 PM   #19
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Tell him to follow his passion. He'll be most successful doing something he loves.
+1
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Old 06-12-2012, 06:04 PM   #20
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I agree with the many voices saying to do what you love.

Further, the advice I'd give is that it's not about what you make, but what you keep and save.

Teaching him to spend less than he earns and have a healthy savings rate, regardless of chosen profession, will eventually make him wealthy.
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